Having identified issues and terminology in the first component (Component One) the next two components aim to both deconstruct structures that are related to those issues, as well as exploring structures that ‘traverse’ public realm structures, which may be funded by public realm finances but are often seen as an addition to public realm processes of delivery and are therefore not viewed as equal.
Transformation is therefore imposed upon these ‘traversing’ structures, transformation that may not necessarily benefit such structures but is either for the benefit of, or the fiscal restrictions within, the public realm.
The ‘traversing structures’ are seen as part of a supply chain to public realm services, not as integral components but additions and ‘bolt on’ services.
The first part of this paper therefore explores what we have called the Current Process, linear development. Fig 1 provides a visual interpretation of current decision-making process, a basic outline as to how service decisions are made. Fig 1i explores a visualisation of engaging the ‘traversing’ organisations, predominantly voluntary sector organisations and community groups as part of what is can be called a supply chain.
The second part begins to explore the possibilities of a different view, a view that widens the character of voluntary and community organisations, expanding on the principle of placing individuals, community activists (assets) at the core of community and potential service provision development.
It does this by exploring different, yet complementary, views of community role and engagement within service provision.
Community Development and Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), can operate within and separate from public realm provision. Some proponents of ABCD believe it should operate separately from statutory deficit / deficiency model provision, focusing on neighbourhood / community need. The fundamental differences are outlined through Dan Duncan’s diagram, fig 3, and further references are provided.
RnR Organisation’s Three Field Development, fig 4, and Poc Zero’s Ring of Confidence, fig 5, explore constructs of a possible ecosystem, developed in Birmingham, both models/initiatives designed to aid asset-based involvement in service provision. We appreciate that these initiatives are transferable to other areas, as well as acknowledging that other organisations may have similar processes.
PART ONE The Current, Linear, Process
The Current Process, referred to as the Linear Process. (Fig 1) provides a visualisation of the issues expressed in Component one.
The visualisation identifies the process as linear in format, fiscally restricted and output driven. The process is initiated through political policy which, in turn is turned into strategic policy, strategic development and finally operational implementation, all developed within fiscal constraints, public funding.
Service delivery has changed over the past 15-20 years from an in-house, or grants to external organisation delivery, to that of services delivered by public and non-public sector organisations being undertaken through a process of written tenders and commissioned work. Tender specifications and commissioned activity is driven by data – this data identifies the need, it is predominantly collated within public realm data sets and is, therefore, often restricted data and silo focused. The data is retained in specific departments and not necessarily shared amongst, or even known by, other departments.
Such data sets are seldom shared externally, outside the public realm organisation, or published in a format that encourages sharing or enables any other party to develop interpretative models that may produce an ‘innovative’ solution to an issue. While the publishing of personal data would not be acceptable, anonymised data published under an open license could widen partnership and engagement of other parties.
Fig 1 Current Model, Linear Process
Not only is commissioning undertaken within restricted data boundaries, it is also fiscally restricted, primarily, but not solely, through political decisions at a national level. Policy and process, established by national government and implemented at a local level, ascertains the amount of money available to fund services identified through the data.
The commissioning and tendering process is aimed at ‘opening’ or ‘creating’ a market. The term ‘purchaser’ is used to describe functions within a commissioning and tendering process, attracting ‘products’ or services through tender applications, assessed against fiscal constraints and output expectations.
While this process purports to encourage product development and innovation and, to this end, it may use these terms within any tendering of commissioning documentation, products that fall outside, or do not clearly comply with outputs outlined within the specification will not be commissioned. New products/processes, developed and proven through additional funding (external funding), may be assimilated into the process.
However, because of fiscal and output constraints, the restricted data, and resultant tender definition of product ensures the linear process influences and impacts, not only public realm structures and services, but also the interaction between public realm and other differently funded organisations.
Reforms within the public realm to accommodate political and fiscally ‘encouraged’ changes are titled ‘transformation’.
Because this ‘transformation’ is delivered within the linear process through commissioning and tendering, it has an impact on how the public realm interacts with the funded supply chain – organisations that are funded to deliver services.
Transformation ‘encouraged’ in the public realm is cascaded to voluntary and community organisation. These have been developed to resolve local/neighbourhood issues, and are funded to undertake this activity. This happened historically through grant processes but they now find themselves having to compete in a tendering and commissioning process.
The public realm linear process develops and delivers its internal transformation, within its own palimpsest. Fiscal restrictions encourage a (Fig 1i) ‘we deliver what we can afford’ mentality, and subsequent tendering and commissioning framework. Groups, organisations or companies, used to one set of rules, have to adjust to tendering against these measurements i.e. not only the change from grant funding to commissioning but the, sometimes, misinterpretation of tendering guidelines and legislation, large contracts and the widening number of applicants for commissioned activities due to shrinking public and charitable funding)
Fig 1i Current Model, Linear Process with proposed transformation agenda
While this process may be adequate for supply of services to the public realm (although there is a wider debate about public realm staff skills in writing appropriate tenders) such a process has limited achievement in developing new or ‘innovative products’ into a market where the funder, public realm commissioners, decide the finance available, the market provision, the output/numbers to be delivered and the cost of delivery.
The current process does not comply with any product development principles – it is not a market, as the funders retain complete control over the fiscal structure, quantity, circulation and therefore project/product delivery. Public realm expenditure, within the current process ‘open market’ principle, has an enormous impact, on other sectors of economic activity. This impact is neither incorporated within the design of services nor managed strategically to support any outcome / output process.
This is explored in greater depth in wave impact (Component Three)
While it is called a market, it is not. New providers, innovative solutions, have little chance of influencing commissioning if they do not fulfil the criteria of the tender specification which, in itself, is designed through restricted data, institutionally based and biased.
Additional community engagement is undertaken in the linear process through a variety of ‘customer’/patient, community liaison [consultation] activities. The majority of these practices, Housing Liaison Boards, Stakeholder experience consultations, ‘Expert by Experience’ ‘Expert Patient’ activity, Ward Committees etc. are professional-led consultation processes, following an organisational structure or ‘medical’ model method of engagement. Each of these processes treats the community participant as a recipient of services only, with no cognisance given to any of their skills in their ‘real life’ beyond the consultation process.
The terms co-design/co-production are frequently used to describe wider participation in the development of services but the terms of engagement are strictly within the parameters of the organisation/funders.
The ‘open market’ principle within the linear process and transformation of services entails the development of a supply chain, partnership or community development within the commissioning and tendering process. Partnership engagement and community development is often couched as a consultation process and may not lead to commissioned work.
This process takes place within the deficiency model – it does not acknowledge the skills within a community or target group that may aid some or all of its commissioned objectives and outputs. Instead, ‘capacity building programmes’ are developed and provided in order to ‘ensure’ that VCSE organisations or community groups develop skills to be ‘efficient’ in delivering within the linear process, if they are successful within the tendering process.
PART TWO – Community Engagement – principles and models
Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), people and communities
This section identifies different hypothesis and models to that of the Linear Process i.e. for community engagement to be effective and efficient, it must hold the view that ‘everyone is an asset’.
Individuals, and therefore communities, are the core of public realm funded activities. The majority of ‘social welfare’ provision perceive such individuals, through linear process restricted data, as having needs that need resolving i.e. the ‘deficiency model’.
The social welfare element of public sector expenditure, health, care (and education) tend to view, and therefore plan, services for ‘people and communities’ (those with ‘needs’), as recipients or beneficiaries of services. Services are planned within a deficiency model, identifying ‘problems’ to be resolved, services to be provided and skills for the participant/recipient to learn or acquire. Problems and issues are identified through closed data analysis of restricted data, with services provided for individuals by ‘professionals’
An engagement/development ‘asset based’ approach to communities, target groups etc., could have a much greater impact through the acknowledgement of the skills and experiences of participants. Identifying individual and organisational learning and training needs, engaging in decision making, utilising locally-sourced data and intelligence, and accommodating these resources in a new decision-making process, could have a quantifiably positive impact on outputs and outcomes related to identified needs.
An ‘asset-based’ model, where communities play a more active role in the design and delivery of services from which they and others will benefit, is potentially far more productive than the linear process. It does, however, require a significant public realm paradigm shift in planning and delivering services and activities for it to have noteworthy effective on community engagement and impact. Such a model provides an opportunity for statutory services to be enriched and enhanced by acknowledging and harnessing inherent and/or latent skills within communities. It changes a deficit model of resolving perceived ‘deficiencies and difficulties’, into an asset-based model, acknowledging the role that individuals and communities collectively can play in designing, developing and delivering programmes to address mutually agreed issues. (fig 3)
As a point of clarification, the term ‘community’ is used to describe a common bond of interest, issue, culture or geography, acknowledging that such ‘communities’ are as diverse in skills and engagement as they are broad in interest and culture. They may be organised in ‘constituted groups’ (charities, incorporated voluntary organisations etc.), faith based or unincorporated groups, etc. They may wish to deliver services, to be involved in the planning or just to support people in their ‘community’.
Asset-based, as well as community development activities, tend to try and value all individuals, their skills knowledge and experience and believe they can add something to transformational activity. Conversations, listening and talking are core activities in acknowledging and utilising community ‘assets’ i.e. people.
The paradigm shift required by public realm organisations and institutions in modifying their approach to community is highlighted in Dan Duncan’s ‘ABCD, Toolkit’– a practical manifestation of Asset Based Community Development, The New Paradigm for Effective Community Impact.
Fig 2 New paradigm for effective community impact, Dan Duncan
The table in Fig 2 provides a clear distinction between a Needs/Deficit Based model, as delivered within the Linear process, and an Asset-Based process.
The Asset-Based approach is more often associated with community engagement provision. It is not beyond the bounds of reason to believe that such principles can be incorporated into a new design process for public realm services. While community and asset developments often focus on localised, neighbourhood, activity and shy away from participation in wider service development, it does not mean that such a principle cannot be used to enhance service provision, as long as the public realm process acknowledges the equality of partnerships and skills.
Additional information concerning Asset Based principles can be found at
Models of engagement
While community development and ABCD can be guiding principles of service development, two models of engagement outline how the principles enshrined within the linear process can be challenged and modified.
Acknowledging that any service development is primarily an amelioration process, these models explore interventions at various levels and by various ‘partners’
Both models explore partnership, the Three Fields Development (fig 3) identifying the compartmentalisation of support and the Ring of Confidence (fig 4) identifying distinct roles that partners can play in supporting an individual.
THREE FIELD DEVELOPMENT – The Three Field™ process was outlined within a document published by RnR Organisation in July 2015
This model compartmentalises health and social care into three distinct components or Fields.
Field One – formal public sector (statutory sector) intervention – including Health provision, Care, Local Authority Services etc. These are developed and lead by ‘public sector’ professionals delivering statutory provision or essential services.
Field Two – the structured supply chain, including activities and services that support statutory services. Projects receive funding from a variety of sources, public realm as well as additional sources e.g. Big Lottery Fund, charitable trusts etc.
Projects are delivered predominantly through VCS organisations.
Projects and organisations form part of the statutory service supply chain and support partners. Projects are not standardised or enveloped by legislation [statutory provision] as are services in ‘Field One’.
Additional/external funding is however, increasingly related to needs identified through public sector data, and delivered with agreed milestones and outcomes.
Field Three – community activists and volunteer support, as individual assets, within community organisations or service provision. Individuals are involved as volunteers, providing support to beneficiaries of programmes, and they may also be beneficiaries of a service, linked to and supported by a community focused service provider.
Fig 3 The Three Field Model.
RING OF CONFIDENCE (Fig 4). – The Ring of Confidence™, developed by our colleagues in pocZero, acknowledges the ‘support’ surrounding an individual at any time in their life. In the diagram below, the blue circles denote statutory services while the others denote community services.
At any one time, an individual may receive support from a variety of services, or they may receive none at all, but the services are considered to be available.
Such services and support will alter throughout the lifetime of an individual so, while the titles attached to the circles (components) within the ‘ring’ may change, the relationship between the components and the support offered to or received by the individuals will not change.
Both Three Field™ and Ring of Confidence™ models appreciate the potential role of community/asset based development as part of a paradigm shift in planning and delivering the necessary changes to public realm systems thinking as part of a transformation of services.
Fig 4 Ring of Confidence™ (pocZero)
A third, intermediary model, BOXES OF SUPPORT™, provides a link between the two separate models. The ‘boxes’ represent public realm services and community support identified in both the Three Field™ and the Ring of Confidence™ Models.
The Boxes Of Support™ acknowledge and compartmentalise support available to and/or required by individuals throughout their life or at specific stages within their life. The boxes identify ‘cogs’ to the ‘components’ identified within the Ring of Confidence™ and a clarity to constituent parts of each of the three fields.
The ‘boxes’ offer the basis of a ‘supply chain’ to be developed as part of a comprehensive ‘offer’ of support to individual throughout their life. While the Three Field™ Model and Ring of Confidence™ represent the nature of support for individuals the Boxes of Support™ identify specific elements of that support, statutory, community, family or volunteer.
Boxes outlined in Fig 5 are not comprehensive but indicative of the type of support that is available. The Boxes of Support™ concept acknowledges that, throughout an individual’s life, engagement and support with agencies and ‘communities’ can differ, therefore the content of the boxes can change or undertake a different role at different or specific stages.
It is crucial that, in any development or transformation provision, the support to individuals is the acknowledgement of the role of the ‘content’ of all the boxes, and the potential co-ordination of some of the boxes, and an acknowledgement of communication between the boxes supporting the individual.
Fig 5 Boxes Of Support™